Sports are an inherent social activity. It became apparent that running as a hobby recently evolved as a recognizable trend around the world, and not only because people want to live healthier and challenge themselves, but because they were given the ability to share their training process and achievements in their social media networks. As a result, large sports companies have noticed the new marketing opportunities for runners using various online channels. They switch from traditional mass marketing to more personal communication and engagement, enabled by Web 2.0.
The now commercial Internet opened a whole new world of opportunities to consumers and corporations by revolutionizing business practices and social relationships. The social media phenomenon describes the shift towards an open-source, more interactive environment corresponding with the evolution of social networks. These are described as a collection of open- source, and user-controlled online applications expanding the experiences, knowledge and market power of the user as participants in business and social processes by allowing and facilitating the efficient generation, dissemination, sharing and editing of user generated content (Constantinides, 2009).
That social media landscape is now an important environment for sporting goods companies to build closer relationships with their customers and its fast-paced nature changed the way of marketing in the recent years. It as well has shifted from a traditional top-down model towards a two-way dialogue, in which companies are able to communicate with their customers on a more personal level, leading to a further understanding of the marketplace and consumer behaviours. Social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook have made it possible for companies to follow the activities of their customers as well as directly communicate with them.
This paper is a research study of the large sporting goods company Nike Inc. and its attempt to engage with runners as a marketing phenomenon, enabled by Web 2.0. They have completely developed a strong domain authority. It will investigate to what extent and for what purposes the company engages in social media channels and highlight some of the currently practiced forms and requirements of social media engagement in the sports industry. Specifically, it examines the effects and the possible roles of social media applications as potential marketing tools. How can a company implement social media as a new form of marketing tools? How did Nike effectively adopt Web 2.0 technologies as part of their marketing strategies and what are the expected benefits?
Nike was chosen as it is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of athletic footwear, apparel and accessories, also highly recognized through its consumer engagement activities both on and off social media. Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon and founded in 1964, the American company has recently invested in digital technologies and innovations such as smartphone applications and online programmes on several social networking sites as well as organized run clubs and events around the globe as a form of consumer engagement since the late 1990’s.